Clearly the headliner for “Fight for the Troops III” lost some star power recently, when Lyoto Machida was moved to UFC FN 30, after Michael Bisping was forced to withdraw. After all, Machida is a former light-heavyweight champ who has scored more than a few memorable big wins in the UFC.
While replacement Rafael Natal may not be a household MMA name, the middleweight has gone 5-2-1 in the Octagon to date, and has won three straight. As a result, the UFC tapped “Sapao” to fight Tim Kennedy in Wednesday’s main event, and the 30 year-old plans to make the most of it. While speaking to MMA Junkie.com recently, here’s what the noted grappler had to say about the opportunity, and what he hopes to achieve.
“We’re going to make a good show for the people, and we will see what they say after the fight,” said Natal, who has is coming off wins over Sean Spencer, Zoao Zeferino and most recently Tor Troeng. “UFC, Dana White and Joe Silva know what they’re doing to promote a fight, and if they made this the main event, they did it for a reason.”
“I’m going to beat Tim then I’m going to be in the top 10 for sure,” Natal said. “It’s going to be a very good fight for me, and it will be one of the best fights of the year.”
It’s certainly a big fight for Natal, as defeating a highly regarded vet like Kennedy, on national TV, would be huge for his career. If you’re wondering, Kennedy is a pretty sizeable favourite heading into the card, in the range of -333 to -370.
UFC Fight Night 31 will be hosted by Kentucky’s Fort Campbell and will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1. Stay tuned to MMA Frenzy.com for all your UFC news and coverage.